Manjuyod Sandbar Off Bais BayWe snagged another great airfare deal with this Manila-Dumaguete City-Manila trip last June. Me and my 3 travel buddies. With lots of help from a young travel blogger, we likewise booked rooms in a boutique hotel and island hopping tours while basing ourselves in Dumaguete City. This meant we did things the "lazy" way --- airport transfers, boat rentals, guided tours, and lunch thrown in.
This 7 kilometer sandbar is completely visible certain times of the day during low tide. The 4 cottages on stilts can be rented overnight or for lunch.
Dumaguete City is just an hour's flight from Manila. Capital of Negros Oriental famous for one of the country's oldest universities, as well as take-off point for boat and ferry trips to Apo Island, Siquijor and the country's controversial whale shark interaction site in Oslob, Cebu. One can hop to these islands and spend more time there, or simply do day trips while based in Dumaguete City. We chose the latter. Easy enough to hit 3 more islands from here.
Among the islands we visited, we fancied Apo Island for its Turtle Sanctuary there. Overcast skies, sea far from calm, we braved the hour-long boat ride to spend time with the marine turtles. Water current was strong but the turtles were completely oblivious to the
This boat is good for 15 pax
Rented this boat to take us to Manjuyod Sandbar and further on to Tañon Strait for dolphin watching. No whales this time.
sea condition nor to the humans observing them as they fed themselves. At one time, we saw a bunch of 3 or 4 huge turtles feeding, swimming up for oxygen breaks, diving down again for another feeding episode. So close to shore that one can see their heads bobbing out of the water from time to time. Quite an experience really. And while you can spend the night there, we only did a day trip and left soon after lunch. Even then, the return ride was a choppy one. We were only too happy to be back in Malatapay port where there is an active, vibrant flea market every Wednesday. Now, that's one tip for you. Should you plan to visit Apo Island, time it on a Wednesday so you can enjoy the once weekly live auction of cattle, pigs, hogs in Malatapay Market
. If you are there early enough, you can even enjoy a Malatapay lechon (roast pig) breakfast!
MANJUYOD SANDBAR AND DOLPHIN-WATCH ALONG TAÑON STRAIT
Tañon Strait is wedged between the islands of Negros and Cebu. At one point, the distance between the 2
Marine Sanctuary in Apo Island
Nemo and his friends live a happy, quiet life here.
islands is a mere 5 kilometer near the area where you drop anchor to get to Oslob and meet whale sharks. But not today. We are on a boat to go further on to meet the playful dolphins here. Spinner dolphins we found, but I'm told there are whales too but not today. We stayed around the area for a good hour just watching them, or slowly cruising while them dolphins "escort" us. The little ones were show-offs, flying out of water and doing their spins, but our fingers on the cam weren't quick enough.
A big plus on our way to this dolphin adventure is a brief stopover in Manjuyod Sandbar. Just 10 minutes from the Bais jetty, this sandbar stretches for 7 kilometers. You can run the whole length during low tide. Just make sure the waters don't rise quick enough to submerge the entire sandbar. We dropped anchor here for a quick dip, careful not to step off the sandbar 😊 , on our way to watch the dolphins, then returned to enjoy our lunch here while watching the waters rise higher. By the time we left, the 4 cottages on stilts
Marine Turtles in Apo Island
From the shore, you actually see them bob their heads out of the water before diving again in shallow waters to feed themselves.
look like huts floating on water. Not to forget, should you hang around here and meet fisherman, do ask them about their catch. Your lunch can always do with an addition like the freshest catch of the day. In our case, a giant squid you can fit your entire arm inside it!
SIQUIJOR, THE ISLAND OF FIRE
SIQUIJOR. Island of fire . That's because of the many fireflies that took residence in this island which gained notoriety as the voodoo capital of the Philippines. It is only lately that the island is gaining more tourist arrivals. Rightly so, as the island has lots to offer. Steeped in history, natural attractions and adventures, the island also attracts those who are willing to try faith healing and herbal medicines.
Before visiting Siquijor, I got a lot of well-intentioned advices from friends to take care and be wary of black magic supposedly practiced in this 3rd tiniest island province of the country. Our guide debunked all these myths and explained that the island suffered from piracy centuries ago that the island residents weaved these tales about voodoo and mystique surrounding Siquijor. But
Pods of Spinner Dolphins
We had our fill of dolphins; just not quick enough to capture everything in our cam.
it's true that faith healing is still practiced here. My friend reminded me that Siquijor was once a center of herbal medicine studies that scientists from Europe visited the island centuries ago. This allegedly explains the construction of the biggest convent in the country, the Lazi Convent, which became a favorite "rest and recreation" place for men from the clergy. Sounds more like "rest, recreation and research". I just hope the local authorities consider the restoration and preservation of this lovely convent and the pink-ish St. Isidore Church across the street lined with centuries-old acacia trees. The Siquijor Heritage Museum
is now housed on the 2nd floor of this once-convent while the ground floor is being used as a school.
WHALE SHARKS IN OSLOB, CEBU
We failed to take the boat ride from Dumaguete to Santander in Cebu from where it's just an easy trip to Oslob. But we've been there before when we visited Cebu and drove 3 hours south of the capital to check on Oslob where a dozen or so whale sharks have taken up residence and were "fed" by local fishermen. A controversial issue, but I'm not getting into that. The
Malatapay Flea Market
On Wednesdays, there is a livestock auction. Mostly cattle, pigs and goats amidst stalls selling almost anything from dried fish, brooms, shirts, ropes, plastic toys etc.
photos here were from my niece's recent trip to Oslob to "interact" with whale sharks there. For some of you planning to make Dumaguete your homebase, you can add 3 daytrips (boat trips?) to your itinerary and thus add 3 more islands. And a sandbar!
Why Dumaguete as homebase? Well, for one, you'd find Siliman University here. This first American university is huge. It has a museum and the campus grounds boast of several lovely, centuries-old acacia trees. The school cafeteria is also worth a visit for its cheese bread and empanadas. Around the university, several dining places make for a great food adventure. Seafood is great in Dumaguete City. Local fare and Spanish- inspired and American-inspired food establishments abound. Sans Rival is more than just a bakery and pastry shop. We ate good paella here. Lab-As has fresh seafood cooked to your liking. There are also gourmet coffee shops like KRI serving burgers with truffle oil and squash bread to take out. So many choices! Because we got back to our hotel tired from a day of boat rides, snorkeling and island adventures, we turned in early for bed for another early (boat)
Playful Dolphins Off Tañon Strait
No swimming allowed here. Just wait awhile and the playful dolphins put up a good show.
start the following morning. But I bet they have a vibrant nightlife here too. Being a university town, those campus teens should be kept busy, right?
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